De'Longhi Coffee Lounge debuts as part of CX strategy

Marketing director details the new physical experience centre offering and the wider brand efforts to build immersive content for customers

Debuting a physical De’Longhi experience centre is the latest step by the coffee machine manufacturer to deliver better customer experiences around the art of at-home coffee making, says its marketing director.

The De’Longhi Coffee Lounge officially opened in the Sydney suburb of Zetland last week. The 170sqm space is designed to be an immersive one, allowing consumers to test machines and products, delve into the process of coffee from bean to cup, and learn from the experts in order to make their perfect cup of coffee at home.  

De’Longhi marketing director A/NZ, George O’Neil, told CMO the lounge takes it cues from category context, growing demand for at-home coffee options and a wider portfolio of products in the local market.

“Three quarters of Australian adults drink coffee in some form. And just as everyone is an art critic, everyone has an opinion on what they like and don’t like about coffee. Australians also have a reputation of being at the cutting edge in coffee as a nation,” he said.  

“We now have a full portfolio of at-home coffee machine products, from manual to fully automatic, up and down the price point list – we literally have it all covered. As we worked through all these elements and as this business has grown, the marketing mix has been expanding.”

Globally, De’Longhi has been working to build its brand through several pillars. These include a new global brand marketing campaign, which launched in September and features Brad Pitt as ambassador. The campaign coincided with the launch of the De’Longhi La Specialista Arte machine.

Another new offering unveiled in ‘super September’ was a Virtual Coffee Lounge platform, featuring an array of content managed via a custom-built CMS. The physical experience centre in Sydney was originally due to launch in September but delayed as a result of Sydney’s Covid-19 lockdown.

“The aim is to help every person to get to their coffee nirvana essentially. The experience centre is a wonderful extension of that,” O’Neil said. “It gives people an ability to get immersive, to learn about coffee itself, get hands-on, try flavours, understand milks and how to get the right froth manually or through automatic, and to trial machines.

“Our retail partners are great, but in that environment there’s always that retail pressure. You learn about functionality but don’t necessarily get to be hands on. And you don’t have a coffee expert standing there saying if you tilt your hand this way or if you mix this flavour in this grinder with this dosage, you’ll get this. That’s what we’re trying to get to.”  

Through the Virtual Coffee Lounge platform, consumers can book in time with experts onsite or otherwise walk in. De’Longhi is running the first of many planned masterclasses in November onsite and will commence lived streamed sessions online from the centre as well as on-demand content. Content is deliberately pitched to go beyond functionality of the machines.

In addition, De’Longhi has six roaster partners who have defined the right settings for their beans across the company’s machines “so consumers can get a step ahead on getting it right”, O’Neil said. These six partners include Industry Beans, Seven Miles Coffee Roasters, Criteria Coffee by Craig Simon, Brasilero and Veneziano. De’Longhi has also partnered with KaapiKaapi, a small Indian roaster based in Castle Hill, in order to extend the diversity in flavour profiles on offer. There are plans to continue growing this pool.

“It’s an environment where there isn’t that pressure. We want people to get to where they want to get to and purchase, but there’s no hard sell,” O’Neil continued. “You can buy machines at the centre and have them delivered but we don’t carry stock onsite. The objective is to get you where you want to get to. We’re supportive of buying from any retail partner or us. Many people have loyalty programs, incentives and retailer they like to buy through.”  

De’Longhi had already been building different levels of content for various channels, including its website. It offers a 30-minute virtual consultation to help customers set up machines, as well as troubleshooting support.

“But globally and locally, we saw a need to create a space that’s different to product and about the whole experience of coffee. And the demand is there,” O’Neil said. “Our call centre and social media have been smashed for 18 months, with volumes doubling and tripling.

“This is more about formalising programs that have been evolving and responding to what people are looking for.”  

Key to driving a more experience-led approach is integration of the digital ecosystem with the physical, O’Neil said. “We have our CRM in place and are looking to move towards tracking lifecycle value through that,” he said.

Another way De’Longhi will ascertain the short and long-term value of the experience centre investment is through incentives for those who engage. The current voucher offer gives consumers who buy either from company or its retailers a cup and bag of beans as a thank you.

“Part of that is to identify the value we are creating through this experience. Every day, we learn something new and how we track that, and we’ll continue to evaluate over time,” O’Neil said. “When someone is spending $1000 or $2000 to get this at home, it’s an ongoing relationship. We want the experience to start well and to be a positive ongoing one.”  

Sydney is the first physical centre to launch and there are plans to go further, with Melbourne and Auckland possible locations in this region. The Coffee Lounge space was designed by Landor & Finch in partnership with De’Longhi’s global team in Italy as well as the Australian team. Other key partners involved were Lex Collective, who supplied many of the team members for the centre, MPA, who did the build site, site owner, Mirvac/Landcom, and AV partner, Habitat.

O’Neil agreed the future of marketing is increasingly about experiences. “Marketing is so much more than what we were thinking five years ago,” he commented. “It’s the brand, tonality, digital ecosystem, how we communicate and build that digital system to ‘stay closer’ to the consumer over time so when the consumer is ready to reach out, you’re there. That’s where direct channels have evolved lot more and how automation makes things so much better.”  

O’Neil saw this experience expectation only increasing as connected machines become the norm. “It’s not there yet, but in the future when a coffee machine needs to be cleaned, the consumer experience will be a note turning up in your inbox saying you need to do a descale in the next two weeks, and if you don’t have a descaler, click here, buy it and we’ll send you one. That proactivity and these little experiences are what we’re excited about – it’s building convenience.”  

Customer needs state

In complement is research work De’Longhi is doing to re-evaluate the needs state of consumer groups. O’Neil said the emphasis is increasingly attitudinal and around coffee appreciation as opposed to demographics or more traditional ways of viewing customer cohorts.

“The complexity comes in making sure we are getting to them to give them what they are looking for,” he said. “That’s the fun challenge in such a big category like coffee. Everyone is different but they know what they like, and we have to get them to what they like.”  

Media continuity to keep brand awareness high is another element of De’Longhi’s marketing approach and the brand is running media activity on a two-week on, two-week off schedule.

“There are several equity drivers we have to hit, such as coffee expertise, technology and design of machine – it needs to look good on the bench,” O’Neil added. “Social is also a big platform, along with community management. Again, it’s about being able help consumers on the big decision to get these machines at home, but also ensuring they’re able to drive them, troubleshoot and if they change beans, know how to tweak the machine.

“That’s why CX is such a big part of this mix.”

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